Supporting mental health in pregnancy project wins Barnsley midwives a national award
Improving support for women with mental health issues in pregnancy has won a midwife pair from Barnsley a national award from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).
Yasmeen Akhtar and Melissa Addy – specialist mental health midwives at Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust - received the Outstanding contribution to midwifery services: Perinatal Mental Health Award at the RCM annual awards in London on 19 May.
Around one in five women experience mental health problems during or after pregnancy. Recognising the need for even better support for these women, Yasmeen and Melissa developed a package of services that could be wrapped around them. This includes one-to-one support, group sessions, and unique antenatal educational classes for women who have anxieties about their pregnancy and birth. They also brought women together, putting in place a peer-to-peer support group called Mums understand Mums, MuMs for short.
Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the RCM, said: “Too often because of staffing and resource issues women do not get the support they need with their mental health in pregnancy. Yasmeen and Melissa have stepped in to ensure that women in their area do get that support, and their project is a beacon of excellence for maternity services across the country to emulate. It puts women, their voices, and their needs right at the heart of what they do and how they design their services. A wonderful initiative and a great example of what committed midwives and supportive services can do for women. This award could not have found a better and more deserving home.”
The pair also built-up close working relationships with local mental health and social services, so that women who needed more specialist care and support could be referred on seamlessly. Specialist training, involving maternity, mental health, social care and other professionals was also organised by Yasmeen and Melissa. This led to much more joined up care for these women as they moved between different agencies within health and social care.
Yasmeen and Melissa said, “We were so honoured to be shortlisted, then to go on to win was just amazing. It was a very special day for both of us and so proud to be Barnsley midwives. We really feel privilege to be a part of the women’s journey knowing we are making a difference to their lives.”
Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Director of Nursing and Quality, Jackie Murphy, said: “We are proud to see this recognition of the wonderful work, Yasmeen and her team has done in the delivery of this project. They provide a rich and diverse service to the community in Barnsley, which has made progress in breaking the stigma around perinatal mental health. They have supported many people and consistently receive great feedback from the families who they support.”
The dynamic duo is also taking their experiences and learning to the next generation of midwives, organising training sessions for student midwives on mental health in pregnancy. As if this wasn’t enough, they also publish a quarterly newsletter for all the professionals involved, helping to further cement professional bonds, spread learning, and highlight achievements between the different agencies supporting women through pregnancy and beyond.
To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected].
Notes to Editor
For more information on the RCM awards and the full list of winners visit RCM Awards 2023 | Royal College of Midwives Awards UK.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance, and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences, and online resources. For more information visit the RCM | A professional organisation and trade union dedicated to serving the whole midwifery team.